During my sophomore year of college at Atlanta Christian College my family was placed on a journey that none of us ever expected. My mom underwent a spinal surgery to remove a cyst that was in her spine, after the surgery she healed well and made a full recovery. Over the space of several months we began to notice small changes in her personality, she was angry, moody, forgetful, and was demoted at work. Over the next 5 years we went to doctor after doctor, trying to find a cause of what was happening, while slowly watching her get worse and worse. In October of 2012 we finally received a diagnosis that made sense. Mom was diagnosed with FrontoTemperal Dementia, a disease closely related to Alzheimer’s Disease. (the difference being the parts of the brain that are dying) My Mom’s doctor tell us that this is something that she was born with, a disease that would have shown up no matter what, but was most likely brought on early as a result of her spinal surgery.
The same day that my Mother got that final diagnosis, my sisters and I were packing up the car from a weekend trip to Tennessee, to commemorate the passing of our grandmother the year before, and while walking a bag to the car, I fell down the stairs and shattered the bone in my left leg. In fact, the call from my dad to tell us the diagnosis was also the call that told my parents we were leaving the ER with a broken leg and about to start the four hour drive home. Even with all the pain and surgeries and missed work that came with that broken leg, I believe that something bigger was in play for me. I got to spend 3 wonderful months sleeping on my parent’s couch, spending everyday with my mother, being by her side and constantly in the presence of her love.
The first few nights, the pain was almost unbearable for me, I wouldn’t even realize I was crying or making noise and she would suddenly be in the living room pulling a chair up to the couch doing everything she could to make me feel better. The first few nights when the pain was the worst she wouldn’t go to bed until dad was up the next morning, I would doze in and out and always wake up to her sitting there either in a chair or with my legs in her lap. Even through everything, the Love my mother has for Christ, for her family, her friends and her “granddogs” always fights its way through her disease and shines on her face.
People are constantly asking about ways they can be supportive to my mom and family. The answer is almost always going to be prayer and conversation, Mom LOVES talking to people, even if the conversations are difficult and frustrating, we are always so grateful to see people working with her and helping her find the words that evade her!
This is a picture we took on Mother’s Day this year. Pictures are very difficult these days, she almost always makes funny faces and refuses to smile, cause “That id no good.”